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  • Writer's pictureZaharo Tsekouras

On annual goals, themes, and expecting excellence (plus 3 new Chief of Staff jobs)

Happy New Year, everyone! 🎉 I hope everyone rang it in with loved ones and in good health.


I began my morning by reflecting back on 2023, and the concept of “annual themes” came up. My theme of 2023 was fearlessness…but that wasn’t how it started.


Rewind to January last year: I was 3 months pregnant and for the first time in my life, didn’t know what the next step in my career would be. At that point, I had created a course on the fundamentals of the Chief of Staff role on Udemy which was doing pretty well, and through that experience learned a couple of things about myself:

  • I love any and all things about the Chief of Staff role

  • I love creating

Something else that I learned along the way was that I had no interest in applying for a job. It didn’t leave me many options for making an income, but pressure makes diamonds and whatnot. For a few weeks, I noodled on the idea of creating a highly niche recruiting firm around the Chief of Staff role, and I finally pulled the trigger, spinning up Right Hand Talent one weekend in late January.


And so my business was born the same day that I entered my second trimester. This was my first pregnancy, and I felt fantastic (and blessed). I had boundless energy and poured all of it into building from zero. That weekend turned out to be a big one for decision-making because I opted into a natural water birth instead of a hospital birth. Come July, it would be with the midwives, at home, and epidural-free.


Fast forward to August 10th, and I was at exactly 42 weeks. “Overdue” as they say, and pushing up against a real deadline. In Texas, if you’re under the care of midwives and don’t give birth by 42 weeks, you must transfer to the hospital and have the baby there. But I didn’t have to worry about any of that. Because that afternoon I went into labor, and 10 hours later, our little Anastacia arrived earthside, perfect as could be.


A woman’s body is truly profound: the ability to co-create, carry, and deliver another being, the connectedness you feel with your child throughout the birthing process, the transcendental state that you enter, the hormones that flood your body when you first lay eyes on your baby…Anastacia’s birth was a mystical, transcendental experience even, and I would do it again the same exact way in a heartbeat. It turned out exactly how I had envisioned.


Why share these stories now? Because birthing a business and a baby in the same year are huge life transitions. And it’s in the mess of uncertainty and self-doubt where we find out who we really are.


Plus, I’m human. Right Hand Talent isn’t a faceless company — it’s me!


So it turns out that fearlessness was last year’s theme, and I kind of stumbled into it. My biggest takeaways from 2023 are that decisions are easy when you have extreme conviction, and things are more likely to turn out the way you expect if your level of trust in the universe is equally as extreme.


The result of all this has been a thriving business, and I’m excited to share that I’ll be making my first full-time hire for a recruiting specialist very soon. Which brings me to another story about how I discovered my theme for 2024…


I posted the job on December 18th and received over 500 applicants within 2 weeks. A quick scan of where these applicants worked revealed some big names in tech. Names that everyone would recognize.


I thought to myself, “Wow, this is crazy. People at ____ want to work for me?” I’m grateful to have the awareness to recognize my patterns, and so interrupted my thoughts.


Time out.


Is it crazy? In my eyes, excellence is an extremely high bar, and I hold myself and others to it. Knowing that, why wouldn’t the universe send excellent people my way? Why wouldn’t I expect it?


If I’m meeting my end of the bargain — grinding, getting results, my heart and mind being in the right place, feeling aligned, genuinely enjoying my day-to-day — I needed to begin expecting excellence…from the universe. And so my theme for 2024 was born.


I went into planning 2024 with that theme in mind. Usually the theme gets teased out after you know what goals you’re going after, but the timing was too obvious and too perfect. Below is the writing process I used for setting goals. It might not work for everyone, because I used it for business planning, but it did for me. Do what feels most natural.


How to set goals for 2024

I follow these steps in this order, because each of them builds upon the prior. If you have clarity at each step then everything should flow pretty smoothly and be relatively easy.


  1. Write your vision. This is where you’re going to dream big and get really ambitious. What are you driving towards with your business? What does an ideal future look like? Think about every aspect of the business: clients, customers, employees, partners, you name it. Let your stream of consciousness take over and write freely without inhibition. Stop when you run out of gas in the tank.

  2. Refine your vision. Tidy up your writing and make sure it makes sense when you read it back to yourself. If you’re good at storytelling, you might be surprised how little you need to do here. Mine is 1.5 typed pages.

  3. Set your theme for the year. Choose a focal point like growth, innovation, customer satisfaction, etc. Don’t forget that even more important than creating the theme is embedding it in your actions, and reminding yourself of it every day, e.g. expecting excellence from the universe (more of a general mindset now that I think of it but we’ll rock with it).

  4. Crystallize your North Star. Your North Star is the overarching goal that guides every decision and action. If the theme is the umbrella, the North Star is the handle.

  5. Draft Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). I limit this to 3 objectives each with a maximum of 3 key results. Realistically, there’s not much more you can handle as a solopreneur. Some key aspects here:

  6. Both Os and KRs can be quantifiable.

  7. Under each O, I put "How this ties to the vision:…”. If you did the vision part right, you can copy and paste bits of your vision into this section. This keeps you honest to your vision and also keeps you explicitly aligned as you draft key results.

  8. Under each KR, I write “To achieve this, I need to do X.” — this is a bit more of a narrative format, because stories make things stick for me. Then, I tack on “I will do this by…” under which I list all the nitty gritty tactics.

  9. Fin.

What’s big for me is ensuring that everything ties — vision to theme to North Star — and looking at my goals every day. Hopefully this framework is helpful for your business or even personal goal setting in 2024!


Something new for my blog

In addition to my usual long-form content, below are a couple of new sections that I’m testing out. They include:


  1. A roundup of Chief of Staff jobs from the prior week(s). I also share this on LinkedIn, but thought I’d add here as well in case those audiences don’t overlap. I think blog posts are also more easily shareable than a LinkedIn post.

  2. My latest bookmarks on X. I consume a fair bit of content (and I’m not so sure that’s the best thing?). But while I figure out the answer to that, I wanted to share what piqued my interest in case you enjoy it, too.

If you have ideas or suggestions on topics you're interested in learning about, I’m always open to hearing how I can provide more value to my Chief of Staff community.


Without further ado…! ↓↓↓


Here’s a quick roundup of Chief of Staff jobs I came across last week & my thoughts:


🌍 Chief of Staff @ Blueland - eco-friendly cleaning products


Why I like it: Blueland’s goal is to eliminate the need for single-use plastic packaging, and as a Certified B Corp and Climate Neutral Certified company, they truly embody their commitment to sustainability.


What more, one of the company’s north stars is to “make the best decision for the planet every time”, and the co-founders knew they’d be able to do that if they achieved financial independence (and they did, raising a $20M Series B and becoming profitable in 2022).


Now, they’re looking to hire a Chief of Staff who’s equally passionate about sustainability and brings operational excellence, financial savvy, and strategic planning experience to the C-suite. Ideal candidates have 3+ YoE with working knowledge within the CPG industry (startup & DTC experience preferred).The JD is perfect, and my only suggestion to the founder is to consider dropping the administrative stuff like scheduling meetings and planning travel because you want to avoid underleveraging a strategic hire – hire a strong Virtual Assistant to handle admin and have them dotted-line report to the Chief of Staff.


Salary range is $95-135k.


📍 This role is hybrid in NYC.


🤖 Chief of Staff @ PaintJet — automating the industrial painting market


Why I like it: PaintJet manufactures a mobile lift attachment that quickly applies paint or industrial coatings to large-scale commercial projects. They announced their $10M Series A last week and a major inflection point like this is when it might be time to hire a Chief of Staff.


They’re looking for a generalist Chief of Staff with 2-3 YoE in a similar role, such as Chief of Staff, consultant, or project manager, ideally at a startup.


I think the salary range of $75-90k is reasonable for the YoE and location, but they might have to loosen up expectations around folks having significant time in the Chief of Staff seat with few YoE. Instead, I’d look for a high-aptitude generalist who’s gunning to make the 1st-time jump to Chief of Staff.


📍 This role is remote, but they'd want you to be onsite in Norfolk, VA 3 days/month and travel 1-2x/month with the CEO.


💸 Chief of Staff @ Corient - wealth mgmt for HNW & UHNW individuals


Why I like it: Corient is a combination of “client” and “oriented”. They’re one of the fastest growing RIAs in the US, and wealth management is a fun space to be in if you enjoy helping people meet their financial goals, building relationships, an intellectual challenge, and variety in your daily work.


They’re looking for a Chief of Staff with strategic and operational expertise to help the CEO develop & execute key strategies, oversee pivotal projects, and enhance team comms.


Their preference is for candidates with 10+ YoE in consulting, professional services, and financial services/wealth management and an MBA.


📍 This role is onsite in Miami.


My latest bookmarks on X:

 

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